Scientists are raving about Spore, the hyperanticipated new game from Sims impresario Will Wright, the New York Times reports. But that’s mostly just because it’s a fun game, not because it’s scientifically accurate. On that score, the game, which allows players to evolve a creature from a single-celled organism into an interstellar traveler, offers a misleading, intensely simplified view of biology.
Actual evolution is a slow process of traits passing between millions of organisms. In Spore, creatures acquire DNA points and level up. “The mechanism is severely messed up,” says one Yale biologist. But the game has some scientific charms, simulating ecosystems nicely and representing nature’s vast possibilities. “You can’t help but feel amazed how, from a few simple rules and instructions, you can get a complex functioning world,” said one paleontologist.